The Fault In Our Thinking

2nd January 2019 | Reading time: 8 min
By Rakesh Singh

Fault in our thinking
Source : pexels


ts quite easy to stay aware of evil things happening around us but we hardly receive any information about good things. Billions of improvements are neither printed nor reported. Those little fundamental changes which are improving the world but are too slow and too small to ever qualify as a news. We hear bad news more often than good news and its hard to see the changes by looking out of your window. The human brain has a general tendency to remember negative events more strongly and more quickly in detail than positive events. Like its really easy to recount how many times you missed your flight or your finger got crushed by a door. Its possible that some people have a more positive outlook, but almost everyone can instantly remember negative things. I came across a sentence while reading a book called 'The Art Of Thinking Clearly' and it says that:

Evil hits harder than good.

- Rolf Dobelli

The goals of higher income or living a longer life is not just to make big piles of money or having extra time. The ultimate goal is the freedom to do anything we want. Before minimizing the misconceptions about the world, let me ask you a question?

Q1. Where does the majority of the population live?
a) Low income countries
b) Middle income countries
c) High income countries

How did you go with the question? Did you made a guess or you knew it right?

The question was asked to the people in different countries like South Korea, US, France, Sweden, Norway, Canada and many others and guess what most of them were wrong. Majority of the population lives neither in low income countries nor in high income countries but in middle income countries.

But saying in the middle isn't very exact enough. So, instead of dividing up the world in two categories, I will divide into four on the basis of income level. But this category does not exist in divided-mind set but in reality it definitely exists. Its where 75% of the population lives. We will see how the life looks like on each level.

Level 1 | You start at level 1 with $1 per day as your saving. Your five children walk barefoot to fetch water from distant places with your single plastic bucket. While returning back to home, they gather some firewood and you prepare the same grey porridge that you've been eating everyday for your whole life. Sometimes you might even go to bed hungry because of failed crops. You don't have a blanket to cover yourself at night.

After some months, your daughter develops a nasty cough. Smoke from indoor fire weakening her lungs and she struggles with it for quite a long time. You don't have sufficient money for the treatment and eventually she dies one day. This is extreme poverty. If the crops yields a bit more than usual, you can even manage to save $2 per day. Yet you keep on struggling. Roughly a billion population lives like this. Good luck!

Level 2 | Congratulations! Now you can save extra $3 a day. What are you going to do with all the money? Obviously, you can buy foods that didn't grow yourself. You can afford some eggs and chickens for your supper. You can even purchase a bicycle for your kids. And your kids can go to school rather than gathering firewoods. They don't have to wander long distances for water as it takes only half an hour to reach to a water source. They can do their homework under a bulb but still electricity is not much stable for freezer.

Now you can have a blanket to cover up yourself in the night and you don't have to sleep on floor. Your life is much better now. But a single illness could possibly throw you back on the level 1. You might have to sell your all possessions to buy some medicine. If you start working in a local garment industry, you would be the first one to bring salary home. Roughly 3 billion population live like this today.

Level 3 | Wow! Somehow you did it. Your savings has now quadrupled to $16 a day. You have an impressive savings and you installed a cold-water tap. No need to wander long distances to fetch water and also an LPG supply for cooking. You even have a stable electricity connection which improved your kids homework. You purchased a refrigerator which let you to store foods & serve for different dishes each day.
You also purchased a motorcycle which help you to navigate much faster in your locality. Unfortunately, you met an accident one day and you have to spend your money you had saved for your child's education to pay for your medical bills and treatment. You recovered properly and thanks to your savings because you are not thrown back a level. You can take your family to a vacation and for a dinner as well. Roughly 2 billion population live like this.

Level 4 | And finally you are saving $32 a day. You are, of course, a rich consumer and earning another extra $3 won't make a difference in your life. And this is why you think of donating the extra $3 to someone living in extreme poverty. You have more than 12 years of education and you travel through an airplane to go on a vacation. You have sufficient funds to buy a brand new car or an air conditioner which maintain the room temperature accordingly. You knew already about this level. But most people on level 4 must struggle hard not to get confused with the reality of people living on other 3 levels.

If you have got an internet connection 24X7 and you have your own personal smart device (like smart phone, tablet, laptop etc), I am pretty sure you live on level 4. There is no need to elaborate this level to you. I have described all the levels as if one person managed to go through all the levels, which seem almost impossible. It takes generation for a family to move to level 4.

I never trust data 100% and you shouldn't either. There will always be some uncertainty. But there is a good principle with the statistics - You should not jump on any conclusion based on small differences. I'd say these numbers are roughly right.

Conclusion | As no human can achieve the perfection but atleast he can move towards it. The same is happening with our world. Looking at some researches and reports from recent years about the world may remove some misconceptions.

1) The deaths from natural disaster has decreased to almost zero percent. Thanks to our advance alarming systems.
2) Not even a single terrorist has managed to kill a single individual by hijacking a commercial flight since 2001.
3) Back in 1980, the share of people using internet was close to 0% but now its about 48%.
4) The total share of people using cellphone 1980 war nearly 0.0003% and it has ascended to almost 65%.
5) In 1800, the percentage of children dying before their 5th birthday was 44% which has declined to 4%.
6) Share of girls enrolled in primary school age, in 1970, was about 65% which has risen to 90%.

If you observe at some statistics which shows the number of deaths occurred due to natural or man-made activities in past 100 years or so : natural deaths - 0.1%, plane crash - 0.001%, murders - 0.7%, nuclear leaks - 0%, terrorism - 0.05%. None of them killed even 1% of the people who die each year and still get enormous media attraction. Today, our world is in much better condition than it was 100 years back. So next time, if you see a reporter reporting about some people who died under a collapsed building, will you be able to see the bright side?

This article originally appeared in the book 'Factfulness' written by Hans Rosling.

Tagged : PsychologyThinking

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